It was December when the idea hit me like a snowball to the face. I wanted to host a tea party. A fancy tea party with finger sandwiches and cute deserts and teacups. All the women who I worked with along with the wives of the men I worked with would be invited. It would be a chance for us to all get together, spending time enjoying something out-of-the-ordinary, and to enjoy being a little fancy.
When you live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you quickly realize how boring life can be in the winter, and it was in February that I realized I needed to start planning. If I was getting cabin fever, other women must be as well. I set the date for March 24th, a Saturday, at 2 in the afternoon. I created the invitations, planned the menu, and delegated to my tea-party-assistants, Abbey, Callie, and Dot. We made mountains of food, decorated the library, and then proceeded to hold the sweetest, most fun tea party ever.
The whole thing was a blast, all the way down to the French Cafe playlist I had going in the background. We talked and laughed and stuffed our faces with as much pinwheels and slushy punch we could manage. After we ate, I passed out cards and pens and had everyone write their names and things that they needed prayer for as the summer season loomed. We then collected the pile and handed them back out again, thus creating a secret-sister type plan. Someone to love on and pray for. Someone to worry about and love in the midst of the insanity that is summer camp.
I would recommend everyone to do this. Book club? Small group? Co-workers? Host a tea party. It brings everyone so much closer together, and fosters a great environment for deep conversation and good food. Here are a couple steps to get you started.
Decide on a date. This will be your first step. Pick a time you know people will most likely be free. I knew that April was going to be crazy, but I wanted to have the party sometime in the Spring before the camp season got too crazy. With Easter rapidly approaching, hosting the tea party right between St. Patrick’s Day and Holy week seemed like the perfect time.
Make your invitations. I wanted to keep my invitation a little formal, but also simple. I designed something really quickly and added my phone number at the bottom for RSVPs. If you’re trying to calculate place settings and amounts of food, consider adding an RSVP at the end of your invitation. (I ended up putting my number in wrong on the invitation, so it backfired a bit on me….MAKE SURE TO PROOFREAD!) Here’s an example of the invitations I handed out. I also gave everyone London Fog Shortbread cookies with their invitation in an origami box. Absolutely adorable!
Make a list. This is always my favorite part. I made a list of everything I wanted to serve, and then asked my tea-helpers (Abbey, Callie, and Dot) to each make something. I wanted a good mixture of both desserts and appetizers as well as drinks other than tea.
Blueberry Lemon Macarons
Tea Bag Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Lemon Poppy Seed Scones with Lemon Curd
Cranberry Brie Bites
Chicken Salad Cups
Allergies and dietary restrictions. Be aware ahead of time if anyone has allergies or restrictions to their diets. How awful would it be to show up and realize one of the sweet ladies you’ve invited can’t eat anything there? One mother was avoiding dairy while another lady was allergic to gluten. We made sure to have alternate options for each of them so they could still enjoy their time without having to stress about the food.
Plan ahead. If you’re making a lot of food yourself, like I did, make sure to plan ahead. Double (triple!) check to make sure you have all the groceries you need for the recipes you’re preparing. Sometimes things work out the way you plan, and sometimes they don’t. My original menu also included Chai Salted Caramel macarons and a fruit salad. In the end, it was easier to scratch these from the list to save time, and that turned out fine! We still had a ton of food left over after the tea party. If you need to make things a couple days in advance, DO IT. I was up really late the night before trying in vain to make macarons. The disaster that ensued, I shall save for another time. (Tune in next week for the Great Macaron Disaster of 2018…)
I’ll be honest, I really didn’t do much on this part. Callie created the gorgeous hanging piece from a hula hoop and tissue paper flowers. The china was all from Abbey who had collected quite a few sets from her grandmother. The idea of using books as centerpieces was mostly Callie’s idea, and she also came up with putting the flower bouquets in teapots and tea cups. The whole thing turned out beautifully and I’m still impressed at how well it all looked together.
I had a French playlist from Spotify playing softly in the background, which set the mood for exactly what I wanted. (You could also use anything classical as well.) I had a board set up with a “Welcome Ladies” sign near the door, and we waited until everyone had arrived before we sat down.
I thought it would be more important for people to be able to sit wherever and with whoever they wanted as opposed to assigned seats, so we just let everyone make their own way to whichever table they wanted. Each seat was set with a salad plate, dessert plate, saucer, tea cup, tiny spoon, napkin, and a goblet. It created such a great look but also worked great since I ended up using both plates for all the food!
In the end, we all had a ton of fun, and everything played out so well. A couple of the ladies told me later how nice it was to step out of an ordinary weekend and do something so special (especially not having to set up or do the dishes afterwards!)
If you’re thinking about hosting a tea party, do it! It’s so much fun and such a cool way to spend time together. Dress up and make a day of it! And let me know how YOUR tea party goes.